Approval for Amendment to the Sikh Gurudwaras Act, 1925

Approval for Amendment to the Sikh Gurudwaras Act, 1925 

The Union Cabinet under the Chairmanship of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi today considered the proposal of the Ministry of Home Affairs regarding amendment in the Sikh Gurdwaras Act, 1925 to remove the exception given to Sahjdhari Sikhs in 1944 to vote in the elections to the members of the Board and the Committees constituted under the Sikh Gurdwaras Act, 1925, by amending the Act through the Parliament.

            Accordingly, the Cabinet has, approved the propopsal of the Ministry of Home Affairs to amend the Sikh Gurdwaras Act, 1925 through the Parliament retrospectively with effect from 08.10.2003.

            The said amendment in the Act was also carried out by the Ministry of Home Affairs’ Notification dated 08.10.2003 in exercise of the powers conferred by the Parliament under section 72 of the Punjab Re-organisation Act, 1966.  However, the said Notification was quashed by the High Court of Punjab and Haryana, vide order dated 20.12.2011, leaving it for the appropriate and competent Legislature to decide as to whether or not to amend the Act to that effect.

Union Home Minister’s Statement In Ishrat Jahan Case 
The Union Home Minister Shri Rajnath Singh made a Statement under Rule 197 of the Rules of Procedure in Lok Sabha today regarding alleged alteration on affidavit in Ishrat Jahan case. The following is the text of the Home Minister’s Statement:

“ In a police action with the Ahmedabad police on 15.6.2004, four persons namely Javed Sheikh, Jishan Johar, Amjad Ali and Ishrat Jahan were killed.

2. Ms. Shamima Kausar, mother of Ishrat Jahan, filed a Special Criminal Application no.822 of 2004 in Gujarat High Court requesting inter-alia, that the Central Bureau of Investigation may be directed to carry out investigation of FIR No.8 of 2004 dated 15.6.2004 relating to the said incident registered with DCB Ahmedabad City and to direct the Union of India to provide compensation to the petitioner. The Respondent to the Petition were the Union of India, the State of Gujarat and others.

3. The first affidavit on behalf of Union of India was filed in the Hon’ble Gujarat High Court on 6.8.2009 by the then Under Secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs, after it was approved by the then Union Home Minister. In the said affidavit it was submitted that Union of India had received specific inputs to suggest that Lashker-e-Toiba (LeT) had been planning to carry out the terrorist activities in various parts of the country, including the state of Gujarat. It was also submitted that the Union of India was aware of the inputs that the LeT was planning to carry out assassination of some top-level national and state leaders and LeT in this regard had tasked its India based cadres to monitor their movements. It was further stated that Union of India had learnt that LeT had inducted its cadres including Pakistani LeT terrorists in Gujarat for specific terrorist action and that UoI and its agencies were and are regularly sharing such inputs with the state Governments concerned. The affidavit also provided the background and linkages of Javed Sheikh, Amjad Ali, Jishan Johar and Ishrat Jahan and the contradictions in the averments of the petitioner and that of Mr. M.R.Gopinath Pillai, father of Javed Sheikh, in his Writ Petition (CR) No. 63/2007 filed in the Hon’ble Supreme Court, which was not entertained by the Hon’ble Supreme Court but Mr. Pillai was given liberty to approach the Hon’ble Gujarat High Court. In so far as Petitioner’s prayer for investigation by the CBI was concerned, it was submitted that no proposal for CBI investigation into the case is under consideration of the Central Government nor does it consider the present case fit for investigation by the CBI.

4. Thereafter, on 29/9/2009, a Further Affidavit on behalf of UoI was also filed by the then Under Secretary, MHA, in SCA no.822/2004 before the Gujarat High Court, after it was apparently vetted by the learned Attorney General and approved by the Union Home Minister. The notings on the concerned file do not provide any reason for filing of the affidavit dated 29.9.2009. It has been mentioned in the affidavit that the further affidavit was being made in view of subsequent developments in relation to the issues connected with the Petition and to clarify apprehensions expressed in regard to the affidavit filed by UoI (dated 6.8.2009) as well as to refute attempts to misinterpret portions of the affidavit.

5. In the further affidavit, it was stated that all intelligence inputs do not constitute conclusive proof and it is for the State Government and the State Police to act on such inputs. It was further submitted that the central Government is in no way concerned with such action nor does it condone or endorse any unjustified or excessive action. It was also mentioned that the main purpose of the First Affidavit was to highlight the contradiction in the pleadings averred in the Petition filed by Mrs. Shamima Kausar and the Petition which had been filed by Mr. Pillai. It was also submitted that at the time the First Affidavit was filed, the Central Government was not aware of the fact that a judicial enquiry under Section 176 in relation to the deaths was underway. As such and otherwise, the Central Government was not concerned with the merits of the action taken by the Gujarat Police and anything stated in the first affidavit was not intended to support or justify the action of the State Police. It was also submitted that the Union of India would have no objection, if on proper consideration of facts it is found that an independent inquiry and investigation has to be carried out by the CBI or otherwise.

6. Thereafter, the Hon’ble Gujarat High Court ordered an investigation into the incident, first, by a Court appointed SIT and thereafter by the CBI vide Judgement dated 01.12.2011. The CBI, after investigation, filed the first chargesheet on 03.07.2013 u/s 302,364,368, 346, 120-B, 201, 203, 204, 217, 218 of IPC and Sections 25, 27 of Arms Act, against 7 Gujarat Police officials . Subsequently, the CBI filed a Supplementary chargesheet against 4 IB officials on 06.02.2014 u/s 120B r/w 302, 346, 364, 365 and 368 of IPC and various Sections of the Arms Act. However, the MHA upon consideration of facts and circumstances of the case did not find it a fit case for grant of prosecution sanction against IB officials. The case is presently sub-judice in the Court of Special Judge, CBI, Ahmedabad.

7. Further, David Coleman Headley, an accused in the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack, had expressed a desire to become approver in sessions case no. 198/2013, provided he is granted pardon by the Court. The Court of competent jurisdiction in Mumbai had tendered pardon under Section 307 of the Criminal Procedure Code 1973 to David Coleman Headley. Thereafter, Headley was examined by the prosecution as a witness in the trial case relating to 26/11 Mumbai terror attack. During his testimony in the Mumbai Court through video conferencing, David Coleman Headley mentioned that he had learnt from his accomplices that there was a ‘botched up operation’ in India in which one female terrorist was killed in a shootout with the police. The Public Prosecutor gave the option of three names to identify the said female terrorist, whereupon Headley identified Ishrat Jahan as the terrorist concerned.” 
Signing and Ratification of the BIMSTEC Convention on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters 
The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval for signing and ratification of the Bay of Bengal Initiative on Multi Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) Convention on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters. The Ministry of Home Affairs has been designated as the Central Authority under Article 15 of the Convention. The BIMSTEC comprises of seven countries viz., Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand.

The establishment of regional arrangements for mutual assistance in criminal matters will greatly contribute to more effective cooperation in the control of criminal activities. The Convention aims to extend widest measures of assistance to each other through mutual cooperation for enhancing capability and effectiveness of the Member States in investigation and prosecution of crimes, including crimes related to terrorism, transnational organized crime, drug trafficking, money laundering and cyber-crimes. After signing as well as ratification of the Convention from the Indian side, the Instrument of Ratification will be deposited to the Secretary-General of. BIMSTEC and the Convention shall enter into force on 30th day of the deposit of last instrument of ratification. 
Memorandum of Understanding signed between India and United Arab Emirates on Technical Cooperation in Cyber Space and Combating Cyber-Crime 
The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its ex-post approval for the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Technical Cooperation in Cyber Space and Combating Cyber-Crime signed last month.

This agreement would provide help in handling of the issues related to the cyber-crime between the two countries. Both the countries shall cooperate in cyber space and combating cyber-crime in all forms, particularly through coordination and exchange of information in relation with cyber crime, cooperation and training in cyber-crime investigation, etc. between India and UAE. The Ministry of Home affairs will be the nodal agency on the Indian side responsible for the implementation of this agreement. Similarly, the nodal agency of the UAE side will be the Directorate General of Criminal Security, Ministry of Interior and the State Security Department with regards to matters pertaining to State security, terrorism and crimes related to unconventional weapons.

The enhancement of technical cooperation between India and UAE in cyber space and combating cyber-crime comes in the wake of the serious threat of cyber-crime on the security, interest and safety of the people. 
Memorandum of Understanding between India and Bahrain on Cooperation for Prevention of Human Trafficking especially trafficking in Women and Children 
The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval for a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and Bahrain on cooperation for prevention of human trafficking especially trafficking in women and children; rescue, recovery, repatriation and re-integration of victims of trafficking.

This MoU will strengthen the bonds of friendship between the two countries and increase the bilateral cooperation on the issues of prevention, rescue, recovery and repatriation related to human trafficking especially women and children expeditiously.

The MoU is expected to be signed during the Home Ministers upcoming visit to Bahrain in the first week of April 2016.

The following are the salient features of the Memorandum of Understanding between India and Kingdom of Bahrain:

i. To strengthen cooperation to prevent to all forms of humantrafficking, especially that of women and children and ensurespeedy investigation and prosecution of traffickers and organizedcrime syndicates in either country.

ii. Taking preventive measures that would eliminate humantrafficking in women and children and in protecting the rights off victims of trafficking.

iii. Anti-trafficking Cells and Task Force will work on both sides toprevent human trafficking.

iv. Police and other concerned authorities will work in closecooperation and exchange information which can be used to interdict human traffickers,

v. The repatriation of victims would be done as expeditiously aspossible and home country will undertake the safe and effective re-integration of the victims,

vi. A Joint Task Force with representatives from both sides would beconstituted to monitor the working of the MoU.


As a destination of trafficking, South Asian countries are mainly affected by domestic trafficking, or trafficking from the neighboring countries. However, South Asian victims are also increasingly detected in the Middle East.

India is a source and transit country as far as trafficking to Bahrain is concerned. On the other hand, Bahrain is a destination country for men and women subjected to trafficking in persons, specifically forced labour and forced prostitution. Men and women from South Asia migrate voluntarily to Bahrain to work as domestic workers or as unskilled laborers in theconstruction and service industries. However, some face conditions of forced labour after arriving in Bahrain, through use of such practices as unlawful withholding of passport, restrictions on movement, contract substitution, non¬payment of wages, threats, and physical or sexual abuse.

The reinforcement of anti-trafficking efforts at all levels between the Kingdom of Bahrain and India is essential for prevention and protection of victims. This requires mutual cooperation among both the countries for intelligence sharing, joint investigation and a coordinated response to the challenges of human trafficking. For this purpose, it is proposed to sign an MoU with the Kingdom of Bahrain. India has already signed one MoU to prevent trafficking with Bangladesh. 

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